More Wildlife On Your Little Piece of Paradise

Michelle Wood, District Program Administrator

Last weekend some friends and I took a little getaway to Shawnee State Lodge and stayed in a cabin there. We took a fairly long hike one morning in the sprawling Shawnee State Forest. Other than the sound of my labored breath from the frequent elevation gain, I was struck by the silence in the woods.

Except for one pileated woodpecker jackhammering in the distance, we heard few other birds, nor did we see many. While the hike was nice, the only notable sign of life was a pile of what we are pretty sure was bear scat. When poop makes the highlight reel, you know it was fairly uneventful as far was wildlife watching goes.

We all commented that we see more wildlife in our backyards than we saw in the vast forest. There’s no doubt that wildlife was there, and I’m not saying large tracts of forest aren’t important. Logically, since they have more room they are less likely to be seen.

In contrast, we have birds galore at our house, and hear them all day long.  We see deer most mornings, hear coyotes occasionally, and there’s a bunny around every corner.  Raccoons flip over every flower pot I set out, and we certainly have a healthy population of squirrels and chipmunks on our little six-acre parcel.

While we don’t have an extensive wildlife management plan, we do think of wildlife by creating various brush piles in our woods, only mowing parts of the yard every couple of weeks (this could be considered lack of effort), and planting trees that provide food, like winterberry and oaks (this is a shameless plug for the Holmes SWCD tree sale).

Interested in how you can increase wildlife sighting on your little piece of paradise? Check out the “Backyard Conservation” tip sheets available from our partners at the Natural Resources Conservation Service at

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Michelle Wood, District Program Administrator

Michelle Wood oversees the day to day operations of the district and the diverse activities offered to promote clean water and healthy soil. With a lifelong passion for the outdoors and a background in communications, she appreciates the conservation district grassroots model which enables the local board and staff to create programs that meet the conservation needs of Holmes County.  Michelle is a member of several state and national committees.  Contact Michelle at 330-674-2811 or at